For years I've heard people and ministers talk about the abuse of authority in the Church. As the story unfolds they describe how it began with a teaching they heard on the need to be "covered" and the role of Church government. They describe how a minister or an organization used this teaching to manipulate and control them. Hence we tend to shy away from even wanting to use the term.
In fact, human nature is often like a pendulum. Rather than seeking balance the pendulum swings to another extreme. Therefore we end up avoiding words or concepts that someone has abused.
Abuse does not negate the truth. Rather than react to excess or abuse we need to find the truth and DO IT!
When you study the word translated "sin" in the bible you will find the root word comes from a concept of an archer shooting an arrow at a target. To sin means to miss the mark. I don't care if you shoot to high, to low, left or right all of these results "miss the mark." Personally, I want to "hit the mark."
The Good - Covering is a Blessing
The bible is clear God intends covering to be a blessing. Job 24:7 describes how clothing protects a body. Psalm 105:39 describes how God spread a covering over the tabernacle. It provided shelter, protection and direction for the children of Israel during their wandering in the desert. Proverbs 10:12 describes how love covers all sin. In Isaiah 4:3-6 it describes how on God's holy mountain His glory will be a covering and will provide a place of safety and refuge from the storm.
God intends covering to be used for protection; a blessing.
How many examples can you think of where a leader or organization misused their authority, manipulated the people and violated God word? I remember a time where I had to confront a leader because of greed. The vision was noble, the message was powerful and anointed and many gave sacrificially. Week after week most of the message was devoted to receiving offerings. This leader used the resources of their organization to live in a grand style while people on his staff went without pay sometimes for years. He was very charismatic and used his charm to manipulate or guilt people into getting his way.
In Ezekiel 28 the king of Tyre is a type of Satan.
Ezekiel 28:14-15 "You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you.
God designed this gift to cover on God's holy mountain. Isaiah 14 describes Lucifer's fall. This led to a bad covering; a veil.
2 Corinthians 4:3-5 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
A fallen gift designed to cover is what led to the veil. Moses was the overseer and leader in Israel wherein God's glory covered the tent of the testimony in the wilderness alluded to in the scriptures above. When he was challenged by two rebellious men (Dathan & Abiriam) in Numbers 16 we see part of Moses character revealed. In verse 15 he says that "I have not taken one donkey from them, neither have I hurt one of them."
Moses was one appointed by God with great authority yet his character empowered him to oversee God's people. We see an excellent example of a leader covering here because God told Moses and Aaron to move away from all the people yet Moses interceded and protected the majority while having the Lord deal with the two families who rebelled. If we had time we could also look at and study the apostle Paul. He is another excellent example of one appointed by the Lord who displayed similar character yet exercised great authority. You'll find the key in both cases is a great love for our Lord and for His people.
So there are two types of covering. If we are not covered by the Lord then we are set up to be covered by the God of this age. One is good and one is bad. Who do you want to be covered by?
The Ugly - Lack of Knowledge & Character
This is where it gets ugly. The basic role of government whether it be civil, business, family or church government is to oversee the vision or their responsibility and protect the people. Church government is based upon a theocracy. It is the most efficient form of government and it can also be easily abused. This is why character is so important.
God's design is revealed through much through the apostle who taught us the most about grace. That is Paul the apostle.
Galatians 4:1-3 Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.
The purpose of this article is not to give a complete teaching on church government but to highlight what individuals need to judge. Yes, I said judge. To judge means to make decisions.
Church government is based upon the role of the episkopae (bishop or overseer) and the presbuteros (elders, Sanhedrin council). Titus and 1 Timothy 3 provide a look at the role of these gifts and alludes to the role of the apostle in church government. Because of the function of the apostle (1 Corinthians 12:28) this gift can be involved in the establishment of church government.
God gave this to be a structure to protect. It is a system of guardians and stewards. But IF there is a character flaw such as selfish ambition or greed it should be evident that they are not qualified to serve in the capacity as an elder or overseer. We cannot judge people when it comes to their eternal destiny but we are called to judge words and actions.
1 Corinthians 2:15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.
Everyone one of us needs accountability but it should be with gifted men and women of God who serve as overseers, elders and ministers who have PROVEN CHARACTER and who love us. Remember, love covers a multitude of sin. Love speaks the truth (Ephesians 4:15). Unfortunately today in America it seems like we are more enamored with the skill with which a minister can entertain us with their gifts than their character.
But this is not always the case. Sometimes it is just a lack of knowledge about God's word. Leaders teach what they were taught. Many are so sincere but I learned long ago that you can be sincere, yet sincerely wrong. Hosea 4:6 says God's people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. It is a time for us to mature, study God's word, and do God's word.
One of the keys you need to look for elders and ministers today is humility. Are they teachable? Are they correctable?
Acts 17:11-12 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
How about you? Are you teachable? Will you act upon the word?
Hebrews 5:12-14 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
God's covering and His design is good. I've seen and heard many who just want to criticize the church and or have nothing to do with any sort of accountability because they were abused at some time in the past. Well, welcome to the club. Who has not suffered some sort of wrong or abuse. Don't reject God's design, plan and truth just because someone abused it. To do so is lawless and the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Both extremes are sin. Remember, to sin means to miss the mark. Personally I do not want to err. We at KLI want to hit the mark and live, model and demonstrate God's word. I hope and pray you do too.